chapter  7
28 Pages

The Uses of Diaspora among Haitians in Boston


In addition to the now well-known circumstances that constitute the Haitian diaspora, this chapter focuses on a number of local events that were pivotal in the formation of a diasporic Haitian community in Boston, MA (see Figure 7.1). Specifi cally, I describe four incidents: the 1974 assault on Yvon Jean-Louis in South Boston, Antoine Thurel’s public suicide in 1987, the Merisier murders in Port-au-Prince (1997) and the nomination of Marie St. Fleur for lieutenant governor (2006). Emblems of the decades in which they occur, these events are convenient points of reference for charting the evolution of this community. Each incident also represents a key episode in what Ulf Hannerz calls “the drama of cities” (Hannerz 1980), marking a turning point in post-civil rights era race relations or a shift in how the Haitians living in Boston at the time negotiated belonging. The cases of Jean-Louis and St. Fleur will help set the stage.